Here’s what’s really going on with the Rockettes and the Trump inauguration

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Just as it was starting to seem like no one would agree to perform at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration Jan. 20, it was announced that the Rockettes would be dancing at the event.

Some of the renowned dancers and other allies have started to post online about not wanting to perform for a man who has openly objectified women and has been accused of sexual assault.

In response, the Rockettes’ union, the American Guild of Variety Artists, was reportedly forcing all full-time Rockettes to perform at the inauguration, saying that boycotting the event would be “invalid.”

“It is a job, and all of you should consider it an honor, no matter who is being sworn in,” an email sent to the Rockettes by the American Guild of Variety Artists read.

Then, the Madison Square Garden Company, which produces the Rockettes shows, released a statement late this morning explaining that only those who choose to perform may do so.

Mikyl Cordova of the MSG Company sent a statement to Mashable to further clarify.

“Women are never compelled to perform whether for regular performances or inaugurationswe had more Rockettes request to participate than there were spots,” she said.

The change in stance might have been brought about by the increased attention to outspoken Rockettes voicing their protest to work the event on social media.

Rockette Phoebe Pearl wrote an Instagram post expressing her disdain about being forced to perform at Trump’s inauguration.


Her post reads:

I usually dont use social media to make a political stand but I feel overwhelmed with emotion. Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed. The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything were against is appalling. I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts #notmypresident

While Pearl says she is only speaking for herself, she implies that many of her fellow Rockettes feel similarly.

A former Rockette wrote an open letter, tweeted out by Ani Maeme, about how devastated she was to hear that Rockettes are being forced to perform.

“The Rockettes are not just leggy, happy showgirls. They are dedicated, highly-trained, ridiculously hardworking WOMEN. I love what they stand for,” the former Rockette wrote. “And for them to be paraded in front of a man who has demonstrated a complete lack of respect for women (and has been accused of even worse), flies in the face of everything the women of The Rockettes actually are.”

She continued by urging those in support of the Rockettes to contact the Madison Square Garden Company and the AGVA.

Many who believe the Rockettes shouldn’t have to perform shared their thoughts on social media.

By saying that all full timers are required to perform at the inauguration, the AGVA is suggesting that their employment will be terminated if they do not comply.

However, MSG’s statement means that the social media outrage against this situation was actually productive, since the full time Rockettes are now no longer required to perform at the inauguration. It also presents a new twist: that many of the Rockettes are willing to perform for Trump.

You can read the full email that BroadwayWorld released from “a high-ranking member” of the American Guild of Variety Artists’ administration sent to the Rockettes below:

We have received an email from a Rockette expressing concern about getting “involved in a dangerous political climate” but I must remind you that you are all employees, and as a company, Mr. Dolan obviously wants the Rockettes to be represented at our country’s Presidential inauguration, as they were in 2001 & 2005. Any talk of boycotting this event is invalid, I’m afraid.

We have been made aware of what is going on Facebook and other social media, however, this does not change anything unless Radio City has a change of heart. The ranting of the public is just that, ranting. Everyone has a right to an opinion, but this does not change your employment status for those who are full time.

This has nothing to do with anyone’s political leanings (including AGVA’s), it has to do with your best performance for your employer, period. I will reiterate that if Hillary Clinton was the President-elect, nothing would be different, and there would probably be those who would not want to be involved because of her. It is a job, and all of you should consider it an honor, no matter who is being sworn in. The election is over and this country will not survive if it remains divided.

Everyone is entitled to her own political beliefs, but there is no room for this in the workplace.

If you are not full time, you do not have to sign up to do this work. If you are full time, you are obligated. Doing the best performance to reflect an American Institution which has been here for over 90 years is your job. I hope this pulls into focus the bottom line on this work.

Mashable has reached out to the American Guild of Variety Artists for further comment.

UPDATE: Dec. 23, 2016, 3:05 p.m. EST This post was updated to include a quote from a Madison Square Garden Company spokesperson.

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